Monday, December 22, 2014

Blog Hop Around the World

I want to thank my friend, Jo Castillo, for inviting me to participate in the "Blog Hop Around the World."" (You can find Jo's blog here: Jo is a wonderful artist from Bastrop, Texas who works primarily in pastels but also works in oils and acrylics. She has traveled a lot and has lived in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Bolivia, Peru, and Chile. We met through the internet art group, Wet Canvas, in their sketching forum and have been following each other there and on our blogs for several years. Jo sketches in ink and in the past few years has worked sketching on her digital tablet. I admire that ability since I haven't tried it yet. Jo and I have never met in person (yet) but through the wonderful world of the internet we can enjoy each other's work easily. I'm sure you will enjoy visiting Jo's blog and seeing her paintings and sketches. Please hop over there.

Let me tell you a little about myself. My name is Joan Tavolott and I am a watercolor artist who works mainly en plein air. I belong to several groups that go out to paint or sketch locally or in NYC each week, and I try to go out on my own the other days. I am proud to say that I am an Urban Sketcher and I try to get together with the NYC Urban Sketchers as often as possible. When the weather is too cold or too rainy to be outdoors painting, you will find me in my "mobile studio" aka my car. I also do ink sketches and collages and sketch from time to time with two different portrait groups. It is rare for a day to pass by without my finding an opportunity to do at least a small sketch even if it is done in front of my tv at night.

What am I working on?
Presently due to preparations for Christmas and shopping there isn't much time for art, especially larger pieces. I have been mostly doing holiday themed, fairly small sketches usually from my car. I've sketched at a local nursery...
Wreath Shopping by Joan Tavolott

at Rockefeller Center when I went in with friends to see the decorations and the tree...
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
by Joan Tavolott

and most recently on Saturday I sketched with the NYC Urban Sketchers at the Essex Street Market.

Pain d' Avignon by Joan Tavolott

How is my work different from others in my genre?
I think each artist has an individual style. We all see things differently and interpret them differently. That was apparent at a show I did last weekend with my plein air group. We all painted en plein air at the same locations, but each painting hanging on the wall was so original and different.

I think because I work en plein air my work is a bit more spontaneous than most people who do not work outdoors. That does not mean it is better than someone else's...just different. Plein air painting means that the light and atmosphere change quickly while you are working, and if there are figures in the scene you have to put them in before they move out of the picture. Once I see a scene I want to paint I have to get busy. Depending on the day, I may work on an 8 x 10 scene or something smaller like a 4 x 6 or one of my sketchbooks. It depends on how much time I have...and at this time of year how cold it is outside. The pieces above are sketches but my larger paintings are usually done without adding ink like this one of a sunflower field with a rusty old truck.

Moriches Sunflower Field by Joan Tavolott

Why do I create what I do?
I love capturing the moment...the light and the life of what I am seeing. I love to travel with my husband and we usually do one big trip a year. This year we went on a Mediterranean cruise for 11 days and then spent 11 days in Lake Como, Italy. I did several small paintings or sketches every day. How could I not? I wanted to capture everything I saw! Yes, I could take photos and I did, but when I paint on location I am immersed in what I am seeing. This trip I filled an entire sketchbook of 32 pages as well as doing about 20 small individual paintings. When I look back at my pieces I can remember what the sun felt like, if there was a breeze, who I spoke with, what I was hearing...every sense is heightened...and I am taken back to that spot and that day. A photograph does not do that for me.

I love painting locally too and always have several local sketchbooks to work in. I live on Long Island about 1 1/4 hrs east of NYC. In 10 minutes I can be by the water and it is one of my favorite subjects to paint. The marshlands, the ocean, the lighthouses, and the boats all fascinate me. I am also close to some of the best farmland and vineyards on Long Island so that is often where I head to paint or sketch.

Marshland View by Joan Tavolott

On weekends I often join the NYC Urban Sketchers for a full day of sketching somewhere in the city, sometimes indoors and sometimes outdoors. I take every opportunity I can to sketch in different locations.
Central Park's Bethesda Fountain by Joan Tavolott
How does my creating process work?
People joke that I will sketch and paint anything and that is true. I can find something that attracts me in a landscape, a city, an object, or a finding a subject is easy. My day usually begins with a ride somewhere and as soon as something catches my eye I will stop. Sometimes I can do more than one painting in the same location just by turning my chair.

I have plein air equipment like a chair and an easel that are light enough to take along when I paint. I usually sketch in pencil first and then add watercolors and possibly ink. Lately when I have been sketching something that needs to be done quickly I will sketch directly with water-soluble markers and use a waterbrush to make them bleed for shading before I add the watercolors. That is how I started the sketch of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree above. I used that method with these sketches of people. Sometimes I do the sketch on location and add the watercolors later at home...or sometimes I leave it just in ink like these.
Sophia Sektching by Joan Tavolott
Train Passenger by Joan Tavolott

I rarely go anywhere without sketching supplies. I have a very handy small palette which is smaller than the palm of my hand that I tuck into my purse with a water brush, a pencil, an eraser, and a sketchbook. That way I am prepared to sketch at any moment. There is nothing more frustrating than to see something to sketch or paint and not have the materials to do it. If I travel to the city by train or subway I sketch while I am traveling.

I have also participated in several challenges like "Every Day in May" and "International Fake Journal Month" where we created blogs as imaginary characters.  I did one as Angelina who lives in Venice (, one called "The Magic Feather" ( and another called "The Chevy Road Trip" ( It was fun to sketch something and journal about it too. In January I will be participating in Leslie Saeta's "30 Paintings in 30 Days" (

Please feel free to browse through my blog. You can see more of my sketches, paintings, and travel sketches from my trip. I pretty much post everything I create, and post almost every day, so feel free to come back and visit any time.

Who is next?
Now I would like to direct you to visit two of my friends who will continue the blog hop. Their entries will be posted on their blogs next Monday, Dec. 29. Please make sure you hop over and visit both of them. I know both of these ladies through the internet, and we have never met in person. However, if I get back out to the west coast I would love to meet up with both of them.

Tina Koyama ( ) is a true Urban Sketcher living in Seattle. Although she has only been drawing for a few years, she has embraced urban sketching fully. Tina diligently posts her sketches daily and like me, goes out in almost any kind of weather to sketch in her neighborhood, sometimes with other urban sketchers but often solo. Since Seattle's weather is often rainy, Tina often sketches in coffee shops or from her car. Tina is a writer and does reviews of books and art materials on her blog that are wonderfully thorough and interesting. As if sketching and writing aren't enough, Tina actually makes most of her sketchbooks. If you look back through her posts you can learn how she does them. I am sure you will enjoy seeing her work, reading her stories, and learning from her reviews and tutorials.

Jeanne Grant ( and I also met through Wet Canvas in their "Artwork from Life" forum and have been blogging buddies for many years. Jeanne and I participated in many exchanges and it is always fun to get one of her paintings in the mail. Jeanne lives in California and does wonderful pet portraits. I thinks all the practice with her own animals has made her a pro. She doesn't hesitate to tackle other subjects from portraits to landscapes to items from her many collections. She also sometimes does plein air painting with a group of friends. Jeanne usually works in colored pencil but also works in graphite, watercolors, and pen. I know her colorful paintings and drawings will make you smile. Wait until you see the wonderful Christmas cards that she has done this year!

Enjoy your blog hopping!


  1. Joan, this is a wonderful post. Thanks for thinking of Jeanne for next time. I look forward to the new artist to me, Tina, as well. I have enjoyed looking back in the World Blog. Very interesting artists.

  2. I really enjoyed learning more about you and your process, Joan! And wow, I hope I can live up to that intro next week -- thanks! !

  3. Thanks, Jo. I looked back at a lot of the artists and even googled the blog hop to find more.

    Tina, you write so well that I'm sure your post will be awesome!!

  4. A fascinating post and I enjoyed reading every words. I admire your sketching and I agree that if you paint on the spot you can remember sights and sounds, and mean more than any photograph can. You make ordinary scenes very painterly. I will pop over and look at your friends blogs too. Keep up the good work!!

  5. Super post. If I didn't know you before, I would now. :-) You included a wide range of your work. My Dave's from this group are the sunflowers and the Rockefeller Christmas tree.

  6. Great post, wonderful work by an artist I admire. Your dedication to your work shows!

  7. It is always a treat to read about the artists process,I love this post Joan! Your consistent dedication is evident in your work!! I will pop over and have a look at your friends blogs

  8. You are a true artist - you get out and DO!
    I found this post fascinating and loved every word. Congratulations on being chosen. I adored seeing the Rockefeller tree. I lived in New Jersey and always went to see it.

    I enjoyed so much following you thru your watercolor sketches, especially on your cruise/Italy trip.
    I wish you a wonderful Christmas Season and hope the new year will continue to be one of successful art trips!

  9. This is a fascinating post, Joan; I have been looking forward to your blog hop post since Jo Castillo first mentioned that you were "next" after her. I enjoy the work and thought you put into this entry (which, since I did the same a couple of weeks ago, I know that answering the blog hop questions requires careful reflection and writing time). Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  10. Thanks Polly! I think you will enjoy seeing the other blogs too.

    Mickey, I'm glad you got over here to see the post. Thanks.

    Helen, thank you so much!

    Celia, I'm sure you will find visiting them a lot of fun. Thanks for visiting so often.

    Julie, many thanks. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

    Mary, this did take a bit of planning and thought. I enjoyed thinking about my responses and trying to decide what to include. Thank you for enjoying it so much! I've really enjoyed seeing many of the blogs that have done this so far and getting into the thought process of other artists.

  11. Hi Joan, it's been lovely to pop back and meet you a few people before me in this blog hop. What fun! I love seeing what you are up to and reading about how you work. We have a lot in common, especially a love of working en plein air, although I don't always finish my sketches and 32 pages in 11 days is doing well. Then again it was Lake Como, what a gorgeous spot to sketch.

    I like how you say your "work is a bit more spontaneous … that the light and atmosphere change quickly ... and if there are figures in the scene you have to put them in before they move (yes they move!) and that … once you see a scene you have to get busy." Nicely expressed and in that contains half the fun. Love your ink line sketches of people too. Lovely meeting and chatting Happy Sketching! :) Suzi